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Rob Parker Suspended for 30 Days

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Returning Monday, Dec. 24, barring breaking news

Others Disciplined, "Oversight" of "First Take" Pledged

Greg Moore Named Editor of Year for Aurora Coverage

"Frontline" on Gang Interveners wins duPont-Columbia

Majority of Blacks Say Owning Guns Puts Safety at Risk

Charlie Rose Settles Lawsuit Filed by Unpaid Intern

Will Sutton Leads Dow Jones Business Intern Program

Rhonda Lee Lacks Job Offers but Has 7,000 New Fans

Rights Group Slams Israel on Media-Building Attacks

Short Takes

Others Disciplined, "Oversight" of "First Take" Pledged

ESPN announced Thursday that it is suspending commentator Rob Parker for 30 days over his on-air remarks about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, tightening editorial oversight of the "First Take" show and taking "appropriate disciplinary measures" against employees who played a role in allowing Parker's remarks on the air.

On Dec. 13, Parker questioned whether Griffin was a "real" black man and was suspended "until further notice" two days later. ESPN said it was "conducting a full review."

Parker had defended his remarks before the suspension, but he apologized on Wednesday, saying in an extended Twitter message, "I blew it and I'm sincerely sorry. I completely understand how the issue of race in sports is a sensitive one and needs to be handled with great care. This past Thursday I failed to do that. . . ."

Some, such as Sam Laird of the Mashable website, expected a worse fate for Parker. "ESPN is now reportedly considering firing Parker altogether," Laird wrote on Wednesday.

Others questioned whether "First Take" itself should be reined in, saying the program's atmosphere was too freewheeling.

Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports wrote Saturday, ". . . those within the network who have decided to abdicate any sense of journalistic responsibility in favor of a craven desire for ratings and 'buzz'  should probably take a few minutes and consider that they created and nourished an environment by which Rob Parker, who had made multiple professional missteps before, could thrive by saying stupid stuff and getting away with it."

ESPN addressed that sentiment in its Thursday statement from Marcia Keegan, a vice president of production for ESPN, who oversees First Take:

"ESPN has decided to suspend Rob Parker for 30 days for his comments made on last Thursday's episode of First Take. Our review of the preparation for the show and the re-air has established that mistakes both in judgment and communication were made. As a direct result, clearly inappropriate content was aired and then re-aired without editing. Both were errors on our part.

"To address this, we have enhanced the editorial oversight of the show and have taken appropriate disciplinary measures with the personnel responsible for these failures. We will continue to discuss important issues in sports on First Take, including race. Debate is an integral part of sports and we will continue to engage in it on First Take. However, we believe what we have learned here and the steps we have taken will help us do all that better."

Parker said in the fateful broadcast:

"Some people I've known for a long time. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is ... is he a 'brother,' or is he a cornball 'brother'? He's not really ... he's black, but he's not really down with the cause. He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really like the guy you'd want to hang out with. I just want to find out about him. I don't know, because I keep hearing these things. He has a white fiancée, people talking about that he's a Republican ... there's no information at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Tiger Woods was like, 'I have black skin, but don't call me black.' People wondered about Tiger Woods early on — about him."

Although Parker apologized in his Tuesday Twitter post, he insisted, "I believe the intended topic is a worthy one. Robert's thoughts about being an African-American quarterback and the impact of his phenomenal success have been discussed in other media outlets, as well as among sports fans, particularly those in the African-American community.

"The failure was in how I chose to discuss it on First Take, and in doing so, turned a productive conversation into a negative one. I regrettably introduced some points that I never should have and I completely understand the strong response to them, including ESPN's reaction.

"Perhaps most importantly, the attention my words have brought to one of the best and brightest stars in all of sports is an unintended and troubling result. Robert Griffin III is a talented athlete who not only can do great things on the field, but off the field handles himself in a way we are all taught — with dignity, respect and pride. I've contacted his agent with hopes of apologizing to Robert directly. As I reflect on this and move forward, I will take the time to consider how I can continue to tackle difficult, important topics in a much more thoughtful manner."

While Parker was widely condemned for his remarks, media critic Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times wrote that suspension should take place only after Parker goes back on "First Take" and has the right kind of discussion about race.

". . . There's a lot going on here. African Americans have a long, tortured struggle with self-identity in a white-dominated society which has often associated our culture with the worst shortcomings in morality and intelligence," Deggans wrote last week.

"It's understandable that some people would be wary of black celebrities who might seek to minimize, disavow or downplay their connection to black people as if they are sidestepping something undesirable. . . .

"If any ESPN executives are still reading, let me suggest you avoid the corporate reflex of burying this controversy and instead have Parker return to First Take with some people who can talk about this issue with intelligence and insight."

ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told Journal-isms by email, "this decision involved several people in management…and to answer your question, yes, African Americans were actively involved in that decision/discussion."

Gregory H. Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists and sports editor at the SunSentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., told Jason McIntyre of the Big Lead sports blog on Tuesday, "We have had internal discussions and at some point, we will speak to ESPN about it. I know a lot of people there, and we want to grasp what they're trying to accomplish on the show … But given that the show comes on 365 days a year, how often do you have a slip up on one of those shows?

Lee went on: "I understand what Rob was trying to say, but the execution was poor. When they have discussions concerning race … if you misinterpret something … the way Rob executed what he said, the way he said it … the perception is he was race-baiting."

Greg Moore Named Editor of Year for Aurora Coverage

Gregory L. Moore, editor of the Denver Post, is to receive the National Press Foundation's Benjamin C. Bradlee Award as Editor of the Year "for leading his paper's coverage of the Aurora theatre shooting spree — which occurred at midnight after the paper had gone to bed and relied almost exclusively on social media to inform the community of the horrific events that evening," the foundation announced on Wednesday.

Gregory L. Moore

In answering questions from Journal-isms readers in July about coverage of the shooting spree, in which 12 people were killed and dozens wounded, Moore said, "We are doing whatever we feel we need to do to cover this story right. We had people on the scene within an hour of the shooting, maybe sooner . . . We had some people on the scene for 17 hours."

Jorge Ramos, longtime anchor of Univision News who is also a public policy show host and the author of 11 books, is receiving the Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.

Frank Deford, the legendary sports journalist whose work is found on NPR, HBO and in Sports Illustrated, is to receive the 2012 W.M. Kiplinger Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism.

The National Press Foundation was created by the National Press Club, but the two organizations are independent of each other, Foundation President and CEO Bob Meyers told Journal-isms.

"Frontline" on Gang Interveners Wins DuPont-Columbia

A PBS "Frontline" documentary that "follows a group of violence Interruptors to the front lines of inner city violence and profiles their efforts to combat it with dignity" was among the winners of the duPont-Columbia awards announced at Columbia University on Wednesday.

Frontline's "The Interrupters""The Interrupters" was "shot over the course of a year" as "filmmakers Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz captured the streets of Chicago during a period of widespread violence that drew national attention. With extraordinary initiative, enterprise and access, the team opened doors into places most people can't go, telling complex stories about former gang members working to break the cycle of violence," the announcement said. "The documentary provides new understanding of a stubborn societal problem through strong characters and excellent reporting, shooting and editing."

Majority of Blacks Say Owning Guns Puts Safety at Risk

Whites and blacks differ sharply on gun control, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Monday through Wednesday in the aftermath of the deadly shooting spree in a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

Asked which was more important, to protect the right to own guns or to control ownership, 51 percent of whites said "to protect the right to own guns." Only 24 percent of blacks did. Sixty-eight percent of blacks said "to control ownership," a choice selected by 42 percent of whites. Eight percent of each group said they did not know.

Asked whether gun ownership does more to protect people from crime or puts people's safety at risk, 54 percent of whites said it protects people from crime, but only 29 percent of blacks did. Fifty-three percent of blacks said it puts people's safety at risk. Only 33 percent of whites did.

Asked about the effect of allowing citizens to own assault weapons, both whites and blacks said it would make the country more dangerous. Eighty-three percent of blacks said so, as did 61 percent of whites. Only 26 percent of whites said it would make the country safer, along with just 10 percent of blacks.

Asked whether they had any guns, rifles or pistols in the home, 42 percent of whites said yes, but only 16 percent of blacks did. Eighty-three percent of blacks answered no, as did 52 percent of whites.

Overall, Pew reported, "The public's attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change in the wake of last week's deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Currently, 49% say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 42% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.

"This marks the first time since Barack Obama took office that more Americans prioritize gun control than the right to own guns. . . . "

The survey was taken at a time of increasing criticism from African Americans that the steady killing of blacks in urban areas has received far less attention than the Newtown killings.

Meanwhile, Kristin Stoller reported Thursday for USA Today, "In honor of the 20 children and six school staffers who died, people nationwide have pledged on Twitter to perform random acts of kindness.

"Ann Curry of NBC News took the idea viral when she tweeted, "Imagine if all of us committed to 20 mitvahs/acts of kindness to honor each child lost in Newtown. I'm in. If you are RT #20Acts."

"The movement quickly turned into #26Acts and became a national action."

Charlie Rose Settles Lawsuit Filed by Unpaid Intern

"Charlie Rose and his production company have agreed to pay as much as $250,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by a former unpaid intern who claimed minimum wage violations," Steven Greenhouse reported Thursday for the New York Times.

Lucy Bickerton

"Under the settlement, Mr. Rose and his production company, Charlie Rose Inc., will pay back wages to a potential class of 189 interns. The settlement calls for the interns to receive generally $1,100 each — $110 a week in back pay, up to a maximum of 10 weeks, the approximate length of a school semester.

"The main plaintiff was Lucy Bickerton, who said she was not paid when she worked 25 hours a week for the 'Charlie Rose' show from June through August 2007. Ms. Bickerton said her responsibilities at the show, which appears on PBS stations, included providing background research for Mr. Rose about interview guests, putting together press packets, escorting guests through the studio and cleaning up the green room.

"Ms. Bickerton in an interview described the settlement as 'a really important moment for this movement against unpaid internships.'

"This is the first settlement in a series of lawsuits brought by unpaid interns who asserted that they had suffered minimum wage violations. Other such lawsuits have been filed against the Hearst Corporation and Fox Entertainment — both companies deny that they failed to comply with wage and hour laws regarding their interns. . . ."

Will Sutton Leads Dow Jones Business Intern Program

The Dow Jones News Fund is recruiting media and news organizations to hire 2013 summer interns for 10 weeks in its business reporting internship program," the news fund announced on Thursday.

Will Sutton

"DJNF business reporting interns will participate in an intensive training course at New York University from May 25 to 31. The 2013 program director is Will Sutton, a Society of Business Editors and Writers member who serves on its diversity committee. Sutton has supervised business coverage as a newspaper editor and he was a 2012 Donald W. Reynolds Visiting Professor of Business Journalism at Grambling State University. He is a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists and a co-founder of what became UNITY: Journalists of Color. Interns will be ready for work by June 3. . . ."

In April, while a visiting professor at Grambling, Sutton offered an 11-point plan for adding diversity to business journalism ranks.

Sutton leads public relations and communications at Grambling State University.

The Dow Jones announcement said, ". . . To enroll to hire one of more than 75 applicants, contact Linda Shockley at linda.shockley@dowjones.com or 609-520-5929. Details at https://www.newsfund.org."

Rhonda Lee Lacks Job Offers but Has 7,000 New Fans

Rhonda Lee, the meteorologist who was fired by KTBS-TV in Shreveport, La., after responding on Facebook to a viewer who questioned her short Afro hairstyle, said Thursday that she hasn't had any job offers but that her Facebook fan page is exploding with new "fans."

Lee appeared on Pacifica Radio's "Democracy, Now!" Rhonda Lee

From the transcript:

"AMY GOODMAN: So, what has been the response to your firing, Rhonda Lee, as you gain more and more national attention?

"RHONDA LEE: I think it has been such a blessing. It's been a blessing in disguise, that's for certain. I really had no idea that this story would go around the globe. I mean, I still continue to be overwhelmed and just so grateful for the support. I mean, the first day after the story broke, by Richard Prince with the Maynard Institute, it was phenomenal. I mean, I logged onto my fan page, and I had maybe about 600 'likes,' I think, and then it said 'new fans, 800-and-something.'

"And I said, 'That can't be right.' And then, as the day went on, I suddenly had a thousand fans, 2,000 fans, 5,000 fans. I think I'm up to 7,000-and-something now. I mean, the support has been overwhelming. I really didn't expect this to go any further than maybe Texarkana, maybe into Dallas, a couple hours away. But it has opened eyes, most importantly. And I feel that perhaps that's what this was supposed to do. I really thought it was just a labor dispute, but it turned into something bigger than myself, I feel. And it's become a good talking point and a good catalyst for perhaps moving the conversation of black women and our hair forward into the 21st century and beyond.

"AMY GOODMAN: As the former meteorologist for KTBS, what is your forecast? Do you think they're going to offer you your job back? Have you been offered other jobs?

"RHONDA LEE: I would love to have my job back. Even to this day, I maintain I had a great work environment. I really did. My co-workers were great. I loved what I did. I loved my hours. I loved everything about it. I haven't had any other job offers as of yet. Where do I go from here? Right now I'm just going to try to get through the holidays and see what happens. But I really — like I said, more than anything, I hope that the conversation for race issues, particularly here in the South, is furthered a little bit further than what it — what I think it has been nowadays. But my forecast is: It's looking pretty sunny, I think. . . . "

The damaged Gaza City office of al-Quds TV in the Shawa and Housari Building in

Rights Group Slams Israel on Media-Building Attacks

"Four Israeli attacks on journalists and media facilities in Gaza during the November 2012 fighting violated the laws of war by targeting civilians and civilian objects that were making no apparent contribution to Palestinian military operations," Human Rights Watch said Thursday, adding that it had conducted a detailed investigation into the incidents.

"The attacks killed two Palestinian cameramen, wounded at least 10 media workers, and badly damaged four media offices, as well as the offices of four private companies, Human Rights Watch said. One of the attacks killed a two-year-old boy who lived across the street from a targeted building.

"The Israeli government asserted that each of the four attacks was on a legitimate military target but provided no specific information to support its claims. . . ."

Short Takes

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Comments

Bad Negroes

What is really disturbing besides the silencing of racial discourse by ESPN with its quick sanction of Parker is how the narrative of candid racial discussion is treated with such punitive reaction and interpretation tragically not just by the MSM but many Black interests. The racial narrative must not just be an indictment of failed white pathologies there is plenty of Black malaise to examine as well.

Cross-positngs from the Root

Brian Kirkland

Notice the author downgrades the Caucasians offence, which, of course, is ridiculous. http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/1786999?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ct...

Brian A. Kirkland

Skip Bayless extolled the virtue of Caucasians wanting a quarterback that looks like them. No suspension. Terry Bradshaw said Reggie Bush was running as if after a bucket o fried chicken. No suspension.

Parker's comment was straight from the barbershop and should have remained there, from "friends of mines". However, more to the point, why does ESPN have, as two of its most prominent "journalist", two African-American men, both writers, that constanly mangle their words? I'm more offened by that than I am by Parker's stupidity. Parker AND Stephen A. Smith on the same show are hard to listen to.

richbeckhiker@aol.com

this was flagged on espn website ---

BS --- apologize for what? For giving his opinion? So now the Black man is going to be subject to the thought police. I don't want to hear, "If he were a white man..." At least as long as Blacks were exempt from PC, we got half the narrative of race in America. Half the truth is better than none. It's better to have a pair of balls but at least with one you can still have a conversation.

Bobby Williams

@richbeckhiker

So, Mr. Parker was brave for saying something ignorant? Don't confuse bravery with stupidity. Stephen A. Smith recognized that immediately. There are other black ESPN commentators (Michael Wilbon, William C. Rhoden, Jemele Hill) that tackle race and sports with a clear thought process, unlike Mr. Parker.

MB2012

I think the punishment is about right. And he's very lucky cause they get rid us on trump up charges all the time. And they get away with it because in many instances there's a very loud black and latino contingent backing up the unjust nonblack man (white man), calling for a brother to lose his job. Talk about brainwashed by Willie Lynch and brutal. These folk evidently think Title VII of the CRA of 1964 was not necessary. Companies today certainly ignore it and it'll be up to black people (their targets for unjust termination) to put a stop to their nonsense. They've let us know for a long time that unless we initiate class action suits and individual suits, they'll continue to collude to deny us our hard earned employment rights.

Just some thoughts on the issue but I know God to be good and we will triumph over this common injustice.

Bobby Williams

@MB2012

Do you watch ESPN?

ESPN has many black commentators that discuss race regularly (google Jemele Hill) without incident. There was nothing "trumped up" about the reaction to Mr. Parker's statement. His comments were just as controversial as Rush Limbaugh's commentary on Donovan McNabb, that got Limbaugh fired. Most of us recognize that if a white commentator said the same thing as Mr. Parker, he/she would be fired the next day. Stephen A. Smith immediately recognized the ignorance of Mr. Parker's comments and removed himself from the conversation.

I hate to see a brother go down too, but Mr. Parker has a history of saying dumb things (ex. calling Hank Aaron a coward for not attending the game(s) Barry Bonds broke his record). The only thing that saved Mr. Parker's job is that ESPN's editors knew what he was going to say and permitted it on the air. Before you play the race card, always get as much facts as possible. Mr. Parker's personal attack on an athlete is unacceptable for any ESPN show.

Katniss Everdeen

He should be fired!

maisia64

sorry Rob that you may lose your gig..but you do not have to apologize for anything for a valid question. I understand ESPN, because if a white dude would have set that all hell would have broke lose.

Potz Blitz

.from someone who can only talk about the things that other people have the courage to do. Go RG III !

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